Health officials in Saudi Arabia and UAE are urging anyone who wants to be tested for coronavirus to call ahead, rather than showing up unannounced and potentially exposing others to the infectious disease.
The Saudi Ministry of Health asked those who recently traveled to a coronavirus-infected area to stay at home and call 937. The ministry urged them to sign up for the mandatory checkup for fever and lower respiratory symptoms.
“We urge those who have been in areas or countries where the virus is highly spread, and failed to report their previous visits, to contact 937, so we can help protect them, their families, and the community,” said the ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed al-Abd al-Aly. He added that 2,200 hospital beds had been dedicated for quarantine cases.
The Kingdom has set up more than 1,400 respiratory isolation rooms to receive patients with severe symptoms and 25 hospitals to handle any coronavirus cases that might be detected.
Saudi Arabia confirmed on Wednesday that it had detected the second case of the coronavirus in the Kingdom after a citizen returned from Iran via Bahrain.
In the UAE, health authorities have set up a protocol to identify, screen, test, and report a patient positive for coronavirus within 24 hours of contact with a hospital. The aim is to ensure a patient is quickly stabilized through isolation, containment, and medical treatment.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has worked with Saudi Arabia to build capacity in laboratory systems and epidemiology, advises people to call a healthcare professional if they feel sick with a fever, cough, or have difficulty breathing.
CDC says get tested if you:
• Have symptoms such as fever or lower respiratory symptoms (cough or shortness of breath) and have had “close contact” with a confirmed coronavirus patient within 14 days of their first symptoms.
• Have fever and lower respiratory symptoms, require hospitalization, and have traveled to areas impacted by the epidemic in the last 14 days.
• Have fever and severe acute lower respiratory symptoms and require hospitalization and for whom no other diagnosis has been found — such as the flu. No travel or contact exposure is needed.